The date was August 11, 2008, which was a Monday. TV5, just launched two days before, had already “shaked” the Philippine television scene by airing Hollywood movies dubbed in Filipino language. And then, they dropped a bombshell… They are airing Japanese Anime on Primetime hours.
I’m pretty sure hundreds of anime fans had been ecstatic when it was announced, as well as those who tuned-in when it finally happened that fateful Monday evening. I know, I was one of them.
That was the start of a cult following, which eventually became known as the TV5 AniMEGA block.
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Almost eight years to that day, despite the fact that there are currently two channels dedicated exclusively to Japanese anime on cable, as well as video streaming services with a program library that can surpass any line-up on television, Filipino anime fans still yearn for the return of TV5 AniMEGA.
I could very well understand what they feel, because I lived through the 90’s. Anyone who lived in the 90’s knows why Yu Yu Hakusho, Slam Dunk, Dragon Ball, Flame of Recca and several others are very popular even to this day. Kris Aquino may be one of the sisters of the outgoing president, as well as a multimedia personality that is larger than life, but her now defunct morning show is typically beaten by any of those anime shows.
I could understand why they want TV5 AniMEGA back, because they have aired titles like Shakugan no Shana, Yamato Nadeshiko: The Wallflower, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, D.Gray-man, Special A and made them memorable.
But those who remember the renowned anime block will never forget Fullmetal Alchemist: Broherhood, which was aired on the network in Filipino dubbing just seven (7) weeks after it was aired in Japan. Seven weeks, which was totally unbelievable by industry standards, but they did. From that point on, TV5 AniMEGA has earned the “legendary” status.
But just like what happened with GMA-7, paraphrasing a holy scripture, one cannot live by Japanese anime and niche programming alone. They have expanded into different programming like television drama, game shows and variety shows, but unlike what GMA-7 has done, which moved all anime programming in the morning, TV5 has sacrificed the AniMEGA block and removed it entirely. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Ever since TV5 AniMEGA’s Facebook page was launched in 2010, I’ve observed how people interact with each other. There had been intelligent discussions about anime, negative reactions about the dubbing and some random troll who post about random stuff… but most of the page’s posts are viewer’s request and demand.
To be honest, I find it funny but irrational. Why should anyone demand for a quality service for something that they just got for free? I’ve probably explained this to them multiple times, but just to remind them… Free TV is not Cable/Satellite TV, where the former is focused on the mass audience with various interests, while the latter is much focused specifically on a particular interest, genre and the like.
No matter how much they beg, plea or cry, the television business, specifically those that are on Free TV, will not cave in just because you don’t like what they are airing at that point of time, especially for something that is considered as niche.
But as we all remembered, TV5 AniMEGA returned to the airwaves twice and in spectacular fashion, airing equally amazing shows like Mobile Suit Gundam 00 in 2010 and Sword Art Online in 2015.
I just find it fascinating that the people who are eager to see a particular title on the anime block are the same people who wrote heavy criticisms about the show’s dubbing, which sometimes can be totally irrational.
From what I understand, the top reason why these supporters-turned-critics do not like the show’s dubbing is that “the dubbing sounds very different from the original Japanese audio.”
Yes, even if both Japanese and Filipinos are Asian, there will always be differences between the two languages! The squeaky moe voice may work for the Japanese, but it is very hard to replicate, which is why the alternative is to have a voice that will be more appropriate to the Philippine context… which is what the Americans usually been doing. Sure, Americans don’t get everything right, but its fans appreciate the effort and not simply jumping down to conclusion that it is already a bad show.
Also, those same people who are demanding for a particular show to be aired on AniMEGA are also the ones who had already seen it online. For me, I do not exactly see the point of seeing the show in Filipino, or any other language for that matter after that, because you have already set a high benchmark.
In my case, I cringe whenever I see Yu Yu Hakusho on ANIMAX Asia, especially with that horrible English dubbing made by amateurs. Why? Because I’ve grown up watching that anime on GMA-7 in Filipino and I really think that the dubbing is great.
I admit, whenever someone post a comment saying that if they air a particular anime show “tataas ang ratings ninyo!” (your ratings will go up!), me and my friends simply laugh it off and agree that it will never going to happen.
Quite frankly, that thinking is just being delusional and it will not work on Free TV today.
But to be fair, TV5 also has a share of blame for AniMEGA block’s downfall. As you may already know, TV5 is currently owned by the PLDT subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. after the Malaysian-owned Media Prima Bhd., through its subdidiary MPB Primedia, had divested their shares of the network in 2009.
From then on, the network has followed the conventional promotion scheme where primetime shows are given more promotion than non-prime shows, unlike how the MPB Primedia era did during their time.
The only outlet anime and other children’s shows are promoted is via social media, and with it, we know that Social Media, despite the country being the social media-savvy country that we are, only reaches a certain aspect of the country as the country is not yet fully connected to the internet.
Another thing is that PLDT chairman Manny V. Pangilinan wants to gamble, which is the reason he bought TV5. He had high hopes for the network, but it seems that he also wants immediate results.
They have acquired talents and developed new programming, playing the same game as the other two networks, which had attracted some new audience during the Kapatid era, but also alienated most of the original audience. Pangilinan had hoped that TV5 will become the top network, but the new format did not work out and they got stuck in Number 3. Programs got cancelled, talents moved to other networks, and the entertainment division got disbanded.
Currently, their programming revolves around sports, movies, news, some entertainment shows outsourced from Viva Entertainment and home shopping. AKSYONtv, which is their sister channel, had it much worst.
If you ask me what do I think TV5 should have done, I’ll say that they should have sticked to airing alternative programming, then slowly introduce different kinds of programming without disrupting the harmony of the channel. They should had continued to be a disruptor, “shaking” the television landscape, and I’m pretty sure everyone will follow.
Right now, I highly doubt that it will work since the harmony has long been distrupted. I also feel that AniMEGA fans are just clinging to false hopes, just because TV5 replies to their messages with generic reply that is simply a “copy & paste”. No matter how much “Twitter parties” the fans conduct, they have already failed in the eyes of the network, because they did not deliver on their promise.
Unless there is some kind of an outside force, maybe a Japanese entertainment company, will take a chunk of their airtime, I don’t think TV5 AniMEGA will ever return. Maybe it’s time to pack your bags and go.
Let me hear from you. If you have reactions about what the topic, you can email me at [email protected].
The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].